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International customs regulations in e-commerce

FLEX. will help you streamline customs clearance in the European Union. Our local customs brokerage consultants can help you deal with bureaucratic burdens and avoid delays.

Customs duty is a commonly used term in international shipping and refers to any customs duties, tariffs or taxes levied on goods in connection with their exportation and importation through the customs frontiers of a country. These costs may vary depending on the type of product and your country. They are an additional fee that must be paid in addition to the payment for the shipment of goods. Each country has its own guidelines and customs regulations. No matter what you send, our web tools will tell you what to expect.

Who pays duties, fees or taxes?

When your goods arrive at the border inspection post of the EU, your shipment will be charged duties, tariffs or taxes that must be paid before it is delivered to its destination. Depending on the quantity or value of your goods and where the shipment was delivered, these costs may be zero.

The obligation to pay customs duties is often agreed in advance in the terms of sale between the sender and the recipient of the shipment.

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Commercial invoice for the customs clearance in e-commerce

For cargo import and export shipments in the EU, three copies of the Commercial Invoice are required. Such invoices can be prepared on the letterhead or on a document prepared by you. They must contain all the required by the customs office shipping information:

  • The name and address of the sender (seller) as shown on the address label, including contact person and telephone number. If you are the sender, please provide your full business details, VAT and EORI numbers.
  • Recipient’s name and address (Ship To), including destination country and zip code as shown on the address label. To ensure fast delivery, the name of a contact person and a telephone number must be provided. If you are the recipient, please provide your full business details, VAT and EORI numbers.
  • The date of the invoice.
  • Order number or invoice number, if applicable.
  • Name and address of the buyer (importer), if different from the recipient, including name and contact telephone number.
  • Full description of each item shipped. What is this item?
  • What is the item made of? What is it used for? (Include Harmonized Customs Codes if known.)
  • Country of origin. Where was the item manufactured?
  • The number of units, the unit value, and the total value of each item. In the case of samples or articles of no commercial value, indicate the nominal or market value for customs purposes.
  • Declared Value.
  • The total value of the shipment, including the billing currency.
  • Reason for the export. For example: sales, repair, intercompany shipping.
  • Terms of sale (Incoterms), which specify the charges included in the total invoice value. For example: Paid by Sender.
  • The number of packages and the total weight of the packages.
  • Sender’s signature and date.
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Brexit disruption – exporting to the UK – requirements as of 1 Jan 2022

Customs regulation changes a lot due to the United Kingdom leaving the European Union, which means that you need to formally empower a local agent to act on your behalf as a customs representative. This applies to all declarations, and not just for any post-Brexit EU imports or exports. This is required in the form of a written document with your company’s letterhead.

We want to make sure that your goods keep moving and you play an important role in this. You, as the exporter to the UK, should provide the following information to make sure you are able to clear the customs on your export/import shipments:

  • A completed Letter of Authorization for the customs agency to act on your behalf and to submit shipment data to the UK HMRC customs system for a 12-month period. Without this 12-month authorization, we must obtain authorization for each individual shipment, which might lead to possible delays.
  • Complete import customs data set (e.g. HS code, country of origin, Incoterms, etc.) and all documentation (e.g. invoice, packing list, certificate of origin, etc.) associated with the shipment.
  • Your EORI EU and GB EORI as well as VAT EU and VAT UK numbers.
  • Your email address to validate the import customs data set (if required).

You can mitigate the risk of border disruption. Get ready and make sure to provide all the necessary information/paperwork correctly and on time.

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International e-commerce on the rise

Several new reports find buying preferences are changing the traditional retail model all around the globe. As the number of cross-border buyers grows, businesses must adapt to accommodate evolving customer demands and preferences by offering faster, more customer-focused services to keep up with demand.

If you’re looking for an e-commerce logistics partner in Europe that matches your ambitions and supports your rapid growth, FLEX can help you. We can support you with industry knowledge, top-notch warehousing infrastructure in the European Union necessary for your brand’s expansion and retaining customers in a competitive environment. FLEX delivers on the promises we make to out clients.

As ecommerce logistics experts, FLEX possess helpful knowledge on how to expand into new e-commerce markets in Europe, launch new products and develop new sales channels all over the European Union. We are looking forward to sharing this knowledge with you and back you up, so that you can realise your goals and keep the momentum of your business going.

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Digitalization to help e-commerce supply chains

Digitalization in the supply chain as a must-have for online retailers looking to grow and compete over the long-term. Specific logistics challenges within the e-commerce supply chain can be overcome with the support of new technologies.

Electronic data from a commercial invoice

Courier companies need both commercial invoice data and shipment data delivered together electronically. Thus, the customs clearance process can start immediately, with great benefits in terms of service quality and lead time:

  • complete and accurate customs declaration with minimal human involvement,
  • fast automated customs clearance processes for both export and import,
  • even better quality of service, made possible by the fact that goods can now be cleared through customs before their arrival,
  • full compliance with customs regulations,
  • the possibility of carrying out a risk assessment (e.g. identification of dangerous goods) prior to the arrival of the goods.

Why is it important?

By electronically sending your shipment and Commercial Invoice items data, you avoid any incorrect or missing information that could delay the customs clearance process.